Maintaining a Rotary Screw Air Compressor

Like any machine, an air compressor works well when it is maintained. If the machine is not properly cared for, things start to perform poorly, and eventually, the system breaks down. Especially given the amount of intake involved with an air compressor’s operation, maintenance becomes critical the older the system becomes in use.

Typically, any modern rotary screw air compressor or similar is provided with a recommended maintenance plan and even support programs if a customer wishes to pay for them. If not, a detailed schedule provides an ideal expectation of what needs to be checked, which consumables need to be replaced, and what parts need to be cleaned for a smooth operation. While the actions might seem minimal or mundane, the build-up of problematic material, as well as grit, begins to wear on the parts and cause aggregate damage that eventually leads to functional failure.

The first reference is the manufacturer’s directions and support for maintenance. This will include the timing of the service schedule, intervals, and various tasks that should be taken care of with each review or inspection. That typically includes checking and replacing lubrication, cleaning and greasing moving parts, topping off any fluid levels, and similar. The low cost of simple lubrication fixes can save thousands of dollars in damage control or repair later on.

The level of maintenance is also going to vary significantly on how the equipment is used and where. If a rotary screw air compressor is used in a research lab, for example, there’s going to be far less cleaning work needed as most professional labs tend to be very clean to avoid contamination. The machinery is going to benefit from this environmental concern automatically. On the other hand, if the machine is used in a machining environment, things are going to be a lot dirtier.

The machine’s coolers are always an external risk. Situated on the outside of a compressor, the coolers help dissipate the operational heat so the machine can continue for extended periods. However, if the coolers are gummed up with grit, dirt, and dust, that reduces their effectiveness, which also reduces their capability. There isn’t a specific schedule by which to plan for cleaning of these parts, but the more regular the work, the less likely the cooler will ever become a problem, especially when the compressor works in a dirtier area or outside.

Couplings are also a component that folks need to watch out for. At a minimum, all the primary couplings connecting different parts should be looked at and checked four times a year. If a coupling goes out, the results can include mechanical damage and failure, so these seemingly cheap parts matter a lot in a compressor.

Watch out for the water used in cooling as well. Many folks will use available tap water, but it can include heavy mineral content. That can become a problem inside the compressor’s systems and build gunk over time that reduces its circulatory flow. The process is gradual but it becomes notable over time without cleaning.

Along with the couplings, the minimum pressure check valve should also be subject to a quarterly maintenance check. It should be completely rebuilt annually. It’s a critical linchpin for a properly functioning compressor.

If handling the maintenance with your staff the above should be assigned and the appropriate supplies and consumables should be in stock to take care of the maintenance work as it comes up. On the other hand, if you want to be sure your rotary screw air compressor support is done correctly and timely, and you don’t want to guess through it with mistakes, then hiring professional maintenance support is a smart idea.